Stellantis invests $90 million in Argentina lithium explorer for 20% stake

Argentina Lithium & Energy’s is exploring four early-stage projects. Credit: Argentina Lithium & Energy

Stellantis, the automaker behind Chrysler and Alfa Romeo among others, is buying almost a fifth of Argentina Lithium & Energy (TSXV: LIT) for $90 million.

The deal with the holder of four early-stage exploration projects includes a seven-year offtake agreement for up to 15,000 tonnes of lithium annually based on market prices, the companies said in a news release on Wednesday. Stellantis gets a seat on the lithium company’s board.

“We are delighted to have Stellantis as a partner in the future development of our lithium projects in Argentina,” Nikolaos Cacos, Argentina Lithium president and CEO, said in the release. “We share a vision to build a sustainable lithium mining operation for the future.”

Stellantis is among automakers such as General Motors and Tesla who are striving to secure battery metal minerals as the green energy transition from fossil fuels gathers pace. Some analysts are predicting a lithium shortfall within a few years as electric vehicle output ramps up.

Argentina is in the South American lithium triangle including Chile and Bolivia that has even considered forming a cartel like OPEC to market the light metal.

In detail, the deal is to invest Argentinian pesos to the equivalent of about $90 million in a fully-owned subsidiary of Argentina Lithium & Energy. That investment amount can later become 19.9% of the parent company if certain conditions are met, the company said.

Argentina Lithium & Energy holds the Rincon West, Antofalla North, Pocitos and Incahuasi brine projects. None have yet advanced beyond exploration to studies. Rincon West is located west and north of Rio Tinto‘s (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO; ASX: RIO) adjacent Rincon project. The Antofalla North project is about 500 metres north of an Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) project. It has stated the lithium resource there could rank among the country’s largest.

General Motors is investing $650 million into Lithium Americas’ (TSX: LAC; NYSE: LAC) Thacker Pass project in Nevada. Tesla has several offtake agreements with producers while CEO Elon Musk has mulled entering the battery metal mining business itself. Ford has signed contracts with lithium suppliers while Volkswagen and Honda are boosting recycling to lessen dependence on mining.